Articles | Volume 12, issue 10
Research article
16 May 2012
Research article |  | 16 May 2012

Megacity ozone air quality under four alternative future scenarios

T. M. Butler, Z. S. Stock, M. R. Russo, H. A. C. Denier van der Gon, and M. G. Lawrence

Abstract. The impact of the megacities of the world on global tropospheric ozone, and conversely, the extent to which megacities are influenced by emissions of ozone precursors from outside of the megacities is examined under the four alternative RCP ("Representative Concentration Pathway") emissions scenarios. Despite accounting for about 6% of present-day anthropogenic emissions of ozone precursor species, the contribution of emissions from megacities to global tropospheric ozone is calculated to be 0.84%. By 2100 this contribution falls to between 0.18% and 0.62% depending on the scenario, with the lower value being for the most-polluting of the four future emissions scenarios due to stringent controls on ozone precursor emissions from highly populated areas combined with a stronger tropospheric background ozone field. The higher end of this range is from the least-polluting of the four emissions scenarios, due to lower background tropospheric ozone combined with the use of a simpler downscaling methodology in the construction of the scenario, which results in higher emissions from megacities. Although the absolute impact of megacities on global ozone is small, an important result of this study is that under all future scenarios, future air quality in megacities is expected to be less influenced by local emissions within the cities, but instead more influenced by emission sources outside of the cities, with mixing ratios of background ozone projected to play an increasing role in megacity air quality throughout the 21st century. Assumptions made when downscaling the emissions scenarios onto the grids used in such modelling studies can have a large influence on these results; future generations of emissions scenarios should include spatially explicit representations or urban development suitable for air quality studies using global chemical transport models.

Final-revised paper